Frequently Asked Questions about the Lilly Library Renovation

All information current as of 4/22/2019

On April 1, the Lilly Endowment, Inc. announced a $10.9M grant to Indiana University to support Lilly Library’s core renovation.  This page offers answers to the questions IU Libraries is most often asked about the upcoming work and will be updated as often as new information is available.

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  • Q. When is renovation expected to begin?

    A.    Because of the special books and manuscripts housed at the Lilly Library, planning for this renovation will be quite different from other construction projects. We have 8.5 million manuscripts to protect, along with 450,000 rare books and many other precious literary artifacts.

    Careful planning is needed, and the actual dates of the work have not yet been determined. If possible, construction work may begin in early 2020.

  • Q. How long is renovation expected to take?

    A.    It is common for a project of this scale to take 12-16 months. 

  • Q. Will the library be closed during renovation?

    A.    Yes. The scope of the renovation project will require closure of the Lilly Library building.  This will impact access to collections, although extraordinary effort will be made by library leaders and staff to provide as much access as possible, and to ensure Lilly Library staff member expertise remains available to researchers, faculty and students. 

  • Q. Will there be access to materials during the temporary closure?

    A.    There will be changes to current practices during the temporary closure. The goal is to have much of the frequently used materials accessible upon request in a secure reading room. Limited space will require that researchers make an appointment to use the reading room, as well as to request access to materials in advance.

    Lilly Library staff are familiar with the needs of researchers and faculty and are developing processes to ensure the highest level of access.  Both campus and library leadership appreciate the valuable input the collections provide to our scholarly communities and will take all steps to offer as much access as is possible.  However, it is likely that not all materials will be accessible during the renovation.

  • Q. Where will the collections be during renovation?

    A.    Currently (spring 2019), IU Libraries and the University Architects Office are studying needs for the Lilly Library collections, and potential locations. Indiana University is fortunate to have a state-of-the-art Auxiliary Library Facility (ALF) where collections from all over the campus are stored in a high security and climate-controlled environment.  

    Ideally a large percentage of the Lilly Library collections will be stored in the ALF. Indeed, some materials from the Lilly Library collections are already stored there to take advantage of optimal preservation conditions.

    This FAQ will be updated as more information becomes available. 

  • Q. Will anyone lose their job during the renovation? Where will the faculty and staff be during renovation?

    A.    All staff will be needed during the renovation. There is significant work required to provide access to, instruct with, support research with, conserve, describe, organize, and digitize the massive collections of the Lilly Library. The staff of the Lilly Library will continue their work as well as participate in the moving of collections and planning for the renovation.  

    The location of staff teams during renovation is still being determined.

  • Q. Can faculty still teach with Lilly Library materials during renovation?

    A.    The Lilly Library is committed to the teaching mission of IU. There are many questions the University and the Libraries will need address to determine the alternate procedures that will be required to teach with the collections.

    The goal of current discussion is that some teaching with Lilly Library materials will continue through the renovation. There will be limitations, however, and those faculty members in the Libraries’ Primary Source Immersion Program will receive some prioritization, based on the prior planning already in place for these courses.  

    This FAQ will be updated as soon as more information is available.

  • Q. Does the Lilly Library renovation still need funding? How would my donation be used?

    A.    The Lilly Library is so much more than a building. The very generous $10.9M gift from Lilly Endowment, Inc. makes the renovation of the building’s infrastructure possible.  However, there are many special projects and opportunities that will require additional support.  

    If you are interested in being part of this impactful, once-in-a-generation renovation, contact Pete Rhoda, IU Libraries Executive Director of Development at or 812-855-7494.

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